In Bangladesh, UN refugee chief warns influx of Rohingya outpaces capacities to respond
25 September 2017 – The United Nations refugee chief today called for ramped-up support for an estimated 436,000
Rohingya refugees who have fled to Bangladesh from Myanmar in the last month, warning that the massive influx of people
seeking safety far outpaces capacities to respond.
“Their situation remains desperate, and we risk a dramatic deterioration
if aid is not rapidly stepped up,” UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi said in a press release, following
a visit yesterday to Kutupalong refugee camp and other areas along the Bangladesh-Myanmar border where people have made
their own shelters on tiny slivers of land.
“Despite every effort by those on the ground, the massive influx of people seeking safety rapidly outpaced capacities to
respond, and the situation has still not stabilised. More is needed, and fast, if we are to avoid further
deterioration,” Mr. Grandi said.
UNHCR has now airlifted three planes loaded with relief items into the country, and is distributing emergency shelter
kits, kitchen sets and solar lamps.
Its experts are working closely with the Government of Bangladesh to set up an organised site with water, sanitation and
other facilities, and to register the new arrivals. Other international agencies and civil society partners are also on
Mr. Grandi arrived in Bangladesh on Saturday to see conditions for himself. He spoke with families living in the camp
near Cox’s Bazar.
“They had seen villages burned down, families shot or hacked to death, women and girls brutalized. Many of the refugees
said they would like to go home, but there needs to be an end to violence, and a restoration of rights inside Myanmar,”
Mr. Grandi said.
“Solutions to this crisis lie within Myanmar. But for now, our immediate focus has to be to dramatically increase
support to those who are so desperately in need,” Mr. Grandi said, stressing the importance of a proper registration
system that could help ensure everyone is eventually able to exercise the right to return.
In the country’s capital, Dhaka, Mr. Grandi was scheduled to meet several senior officials, including the foreign
minister as well as the ministers for home affairs and disaster management and relief.
Mr. Grandi thanked Bangladesh for keeping the border open. “In today’s world, that is something that cannot be taken for
granted and should be appreciated.”
Meanwhile, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF
) said yesterday that a consignment of its emergency supplies
for hundreds of thousands of refugee Rohingya children and their families has arrived in Dhaka.
The cargo plane arrived from Copenhagen with 100 tons of supplies comprising water purifying tablets, family hygiene
kits, sanitary materials, plastic tarpaulins, recreational kits for children and other items.
“Safe water for drinking and washing is absolutely essential in order to protect them against diarrhoea and other
waterborne diseases,” said Edouard Beigbeder, UNICEF Representative in Bangladesh, warning that this is “a very real
threat” especially amid the current heavy rains.
Other consignments – consisting of school bags, tents, early childhood development kits, family hygiene and dignity
kits, tarpaulin and nutrition materials – were also on their way to Bangladesh.